The UK’s chances in the Eurovision Song Contest are unlikely to be affected by leaving the European Union, with new analysis suggesting the country is just as likely to do well - or badly - inside the EU as outside.
Almost half of all winners in the contest’s 61-year history have not been in the EU or its predecessor, the European Economic Community (EEC).
And the UK has enjoyed roughly the same number of wins and second-place finishes both before and after joining the EEC in 1973.
But Britain can’t expect much support in the future from its nearest European neighbours, if recent trends in voting continue.
This year’s Eurovision Song Contest kicks off on Tuesday in Kiev, Ukraine. Fans will be hoping the Brexit vote does not harm the chances of UK hopeful Lucie Jones - though it has now been 20 years since the UK last claimed the Eurovision crown.
The Press Association has analysed the results of every contest to see whether being inside or outside the EEC/EU has any impact on a country’s performance.
The figures suggest that being a member does not increase significantly the chance of success. Of the 64 acts who have won the contest to date, a little over half (36) represented a country in the EU or EEC.
Sweden has shown itself just as capable of winning as a non-member (with Abba in 1974, then again in 1984 and 1991) as a member (1999, 2012 and 2015).
The UK can no longer rely on its closest neighbours for support, however. Since 2002 Spain has awarded the UK zero points every year except on three occasions (2009, 2013 and 2014). France has awarded points only three times since 1999, while Germany hasn’t given the UK a single point since 2009.
Only Ireland has continued to be generous with its scores, most recently giving UK a total of 10 points in 2016.
It’s a trend that suggests the UK needs to cultivate friends beyond western Europe if it wants to enjoy future Eurovision success - something that will chime with those who argue that Brexit is an opportunity for Britain to improve relations with nations outside the EU.
A country does not have to belong to the European Union to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest. Just over a third (16) of the 42 nations competing in this year’s event are not members of the EU.
Though the number of countries in Eurovision has increased over the past two decades, four of the past five contests have been won by countries in the EU, all of them in Western Europe (Austria, Denmark and twice by Sweden).
The scheduled date for the UK to leave the European Union is March 29 2019, meaning the country has just two more attempts at winning Eurovision - this year and in May 2018 - before it is out of the EU.
* Of the UK’s five Eurovision wins, two came before the country joined the EEC in 1973: Puppet on a String by Sandie Shaw (1967) and Boom Bang-a-Bang by Lulu (1969). The other three came after the UK joined: Save Your Kisses For Me by Brotherhood of Man (1976), Making Your Mind Up by Bucks Fizz (1981) and Love Shine a Light by Katrina and the Waves (1997).